Saturday, December 23, 2006

Feather and hammer drop on the moon

yet another insightful experiment based on manned spaceflight. still, very cute.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rod Oram on the draft energy strategy

The only thing i'm surprised about is how these columnists remain upbeat about our govt's approach to climate change and complex problems. They've kicked for touch on every single issue that has long term obvious-ness with short term pain (and that's localised voter pain, not NZ Inc. pain i.e. a functioning first world electricity sector *cough*Vector/Transpower*cough*).
Until proven otherwise, HC and Co. are just talking. Again. Why would you assume anything else based on past behaviour?


Monday, December 18, 2006

The original article describing the structure of DNA in Nature

What a classic! check out the understatement in the last paragraph, a contender for the all time understatement in science.

Friday, December 15, 2006

BAE/Saudi in the UK

If you ever needed more proof that big business and politics are joined at the hip, today's revelation that a bribery investigation by the UK SFO into BAE and Saudi Arabia has been called off should be the last bit you'll ever need - again.
Westminster bought and paid for. I guess that's one good thing you can say for all those Eton and Oxbridge civil servants, they stay bought. I've been surprised since moving over here just how common it is for a front bencher to also sit on the board of a huge company. I'm just soooo convinced that there's no conflict of interest there... One of them is even British Tobacco. I mean, how seriously are you taking public health when your MP's are paid money by those guys?

Check this out from today's Guardian:
The UK made overseas bribery illegal in 2002, under US pressure. Labour ministers subsequently claimed they were determined to stamp out corruption, but in practice no prosecutions have taken place under the new law.
2002! Remember people, BAE makes guns and things designed to seriously crimp your dancefloor moves. What on earth do you think they were doing during the '90s? Any wars floating to the top of your consiousness that needed a few guns or landmines? I can think of a couple...

I had already heard of this by reading 'As used on the famous Nelson Mandela' a book by a British activist/comedian (now there's a job that needs a few more bodies!). He dregs up some seriously smelly goo from BAE's backroom. Don't read it if you're of a delicate persuasion, it'll make a rescue ship engine room mechanic sick to their stomach.
Great to see BAE and Rolls Royce share price has bounced up on the news. Nothing crimps your profits like being exposed as disgusting shameful pieces of human scum.

The CIA is watching... and asking your permission?

Tried to click through to a link for a Peter Norvig programming article and i have to confirm a certificate from WTF??!!
the website seems to be legit, why do i get certificates from the cia? there's a chinese flag on the page, maybe they're webcrawling for all those pesky terrawrists?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

EtOH Google Tech Talk

with Vinod Khosla

Brian Fallow on energy

and he does a good job and pointing out the promise and spend approach. I think people forgot how the Labour govt squandered 1% of NZ's GDP based on bad analysis over the Kyoto credits. Wonder where that column was on the cost-benefit spreadsheet...

As always with complex problems, a measured and sustained approach needs to be adopted. If you want to know about energy and climate change and its impacts on NZ Inc. who do you call? The issue really does need some focused and dedicated brainpower providing some trusted and non-partisan analysis.

ups to the NZ Herald's makeover. seems to take a little longer to load but it is a lot 'cleaner' on the look and feel. I knew something was up when the little '[p]' s dissapeared a couple days ago...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Investing for idiots

this guy at is an investment advisor?
All of us that can handle the advanced concept of percentages can see the logic in his approach but if he thinks anyone in the real world is going to pass up a million in the hand today (and potentially tomorrow) on the vague promise of bucketloads more later on is an idiot - i mean, he even mentions the uncle is a bit scatterbrained.
I think the eco-fundy term is 'front loading vs back loading'. If you are risk averse (and by adverse here, you're talking only a few measly millions rather than stonkingly large amounts) you would place a premium on liquidity and the ability to diversify constantly. If you are a returns junky, you'd double up every day hoping that the house of cards holds up long enough for you to pull out just before it goes belly up.
Seriously, you have to wonder why anyone over the age of 50 is telling you to pour every cent of your worth into the stockmarket on the assumption that the world will behave the same for the next 50 years as it has (selectively speaking) for the last 50. Could the baby boomers be pulling yet another free ride? Not content with spending their inherited assets, they're trying to borrow from the next generation?
Compare and contrast the analogy to house prices, mutual funds and govt policy is left as an excercise for the reader.
FTB - wanna join my cult?

NZ Herald editorial on the energy policy

ye gods. If you think this is balanced, you don't understand the issues.
I love this:
Equally, it is recognised that New Zealand's response to climate change should not outpace progress in other parts of the world.
too right! last thing you would want is some point of difference in a globalised world of freer markets. "smart manufacturing energy rich country with low carbon footprint requires rich planet-concious consumers" - yeah, you're probably right, never work in the real world. we should scream from our beautiful mountain tops "we're no more crap than anyone else!"
the horror. the horror.

Don't need any clean-green markup in your prices. don't need to inspire your fellow countrymen with an audacious scary goal that puts a glow in your heart. if we do what everyone else is doing, and at the same rate, she'll be right. after all, look at how we're doing in the OECD and against Australia... err, well anyway, hows that stadium coming along?

Colin James on Labour's energy 'strategy'

he's the only NZ commentator that i think is bringing all the right viewpoints to bear on the subject - political, economic and technical - and understands the challenges. Having said that, i think he's far too polite....

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

John Armstrong sums up Labour's 'Carbon Neutral' aims

and he gets to the nub of the issue directly.
Labour talks the talk and pretty much sits on its @rse...

and some more on electricity

ah, i love a good NZ Herald talk fest...

Brian Leyland vs the rest

more on the energy policy here.

I'm going with Meridian's boss on this one - we honestly have no idea what the long term cost-benefit of going renewables is. You can make a case that it will cost 20% more just as easily as saying that it becomes a comparative advantage and will save 25% over the long term. The house of cards stacks either way.
Just remember, the cost of oil has pretty much tripled over the last 3-4 years and the world hasn't ended (not to mention the US decided to spend a trillion dollars on a stupid war - how do you include costs like that on your economy projections?).
People are very smart when it comes to minimising cost - if energy starts to cost more, we'll figure out how to make it cheaper or use it better. It's probably the one thing you can actually count on.

The Labour Energy Strategy

mentioned in the Herald today.
But i'm not convinced you can call something a strategy when it's just 'aspirational'. I mean seriously, what does that mean? Can the Reserve Bank get away with 5% inflation and reply that it thought the 1-3% targets were... aspirational?

Here's the press release.
You gotta love this bit:
Creating a pathway for internalisation of fossil fuel emissions in the electricity sector so costs are met by those who create them
isn't that called a tax? and what happens when you tax something at the bottom of the food chain? costs are simply transferred to customers. Great, extra revenue for the trough-dwellers and no practical change in behaviour for the electricity sector - i mean honestly, is this the best they can come up with?

what happened last time the govt tried to tax a sector of the economy for their GHG emmissions... oh yeah, it got dubbed 'the fart tax' and after driving a tractor up the steps of parliament and some lobbying by the climate sceptic Farmer's Federation, it got quickly scrapped. A true sign of the Labour party commitment to any potentially difficult issue.

check out the bullet points on the press release - you see any indication of the major emmission sectors of the NZ economy? you'd be forgiven for thinking it's all transport and coal power stations and they forgot the elephant in the room - ruminants.

And don't forget, the % change in emmissions from fossil fuel electricity is a stupid statistic (from the doyen of stupid statistics - the green party). this is an economy wide metric, it makes no sense to punish coal burning power stations if we are able to more than offset the emmissions with reduced transport emmissions (for example).

Energy policy is complicated enough, stir in the uncertain long term effects of climate change and it becomes downright insane. That's no reason to bury your head in the sand though - come on NZ Inc., we're gonna get clobbered if we don't start walking the clean-green walk, the 'food miles' battle was just the beginning.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

NZ's R&D tax breaks

described by Brian Fallow here.
Sounds like a fairly modest proposal that will maintain our status quo position.
Let's face it, 3 hours away there's a big country that pays more and invests more in these areas. It takes a pretty special kind of person to refuse to go where the work is.
I'm cynical but i think we're going to see a lot of QA and QC procedures qualifying as 'innovative developments' and hence more misallocation of resources.
Mind you, to be fair, you don't get to be in the bottom half of the OECD rankings by accident. It takes years of cummulative effort for that kind of result.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Kansas outlaws evolution


NZ Herald advetisement accidentally labelled story

This rivals even their magnet 'therapy' copout of earlier this year.
Their science reporting is truely embarrassing.